Resource guarding is easy to create and also to avoid. It develops when your puppy develops the fear you will take things away from him. Like human babies, puppies explore their environment with their mouths so it’s completely natural for them to items they come across.  Generally once they realize it’s not food they’ll move on to something new.  If you consistently to take things from your puppy you’ll only encourage them to run from you, consume the item faster, or even bite to try to keep it.   but that’s the LAST thing you want!  It’s only natural to want to hold onto things that you possess and it’s easy to teach your puppy that stealing items is the norm.  In most cases of resource guarding there is a history of using force to extract items from your puppy’s mouth.  

Consider the things your puppy does that get you to respond.  Do you reward them when they come check in with you on their own?  Are you responding happily and playing with them when they pick up appropriate toys?  Are you setting your puppy up for success by keeping their space clear of forbidden items?  Puppies ARE going to pick things up with their mouths.  Trying to take the thing will only teach your puppy that you aren’t very good at sharing.  



When your puppy picks up something very often they’ll investigate it for a moment and then move on to the next item. If the object doesn’t pose an immediate danger try walking away, leaving the room, or simply continue walking along your path.  If you have another dog you can make a big deal about praising that dog who’s not getting into things.  Giving the ‘other’ dog treats is sure to get your puppy’s attention and they’ll most likely leave whatever it was they had.  Many times if you simply do not respond they will quickly move on to something else and you can remove the item without issue.  If you call them and they bring the object along with them you can praise them and reward them for responding to your recall.  When you present the reward your puppy is likely to drop the object.


Take a small handful of treats, approximately 8-10 pieces and wait until you puppy’s attention is elsewhere.  Say ‘Drop It!’ in a happy voice and immediately spread the treats on the ground within an area of approximately one square yard or less.  Then push the treats, one by one, toward you puppy’s mouth.  You’re helping them gather their treats!  Repeat this until your puppy looks excitedly for his treats whenever you say ‘Drop It!’  

Practicing when you see your puppy first sniffing an object.  Then graduate to when your puppy picks things up with their mouth.  Remember to strew the treats immediately after you say ‘Drop It.’  Practice this routinely and proactively and make it a game!

Here’s a video demonstration of the ‘Drop It’ game by Chirag Patel.


Many breeds, such as retrievers, are hardwired to pick things up with their mouths.  Outside of an environment where they may be retrieving birds this behavior can express itself onto carrying objects they find lying around the house.  You want your puppy to understand that bringing the object to you pays off!  

Show your dog a ball or toy and then treat them promptly for looking at it.  The ball in your hand is a great thing!  

Next show them the ball in your hand and move away from them.  Give your dog the treat for moving in your direction.  Often other behaviors develop quickly.  These could include your dog licking or grabbing at the ball with their mouth.  Reinforce these!  

If your dog will take the ball in his mouth you can let it go, take a step back, and then encourage your dog to come closer.  Remember to reward!  Then graduate to placing the ball on the ground and asking your dog to pick it up and deliver it to your hand.  Because you’ve already taken the time to teach your dog how putting the ball in your hand is so great you’ll soon have your dog retrieving on cue! 


As with any training program you must plan for the future.  You want a puppy who knows how to share and trusts that you are going to be the source of good things.  These are the principles you want to model in your home.  If stealing is what you practice, stealing is what your puppy will learn!  Instead, be proactive by teaching your puppy to share!

With dogs that resource guard what is a common historical experience?

If you have any questions about your puppy or training program please call or text us at 913.712.8742. Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.